Butch Reynolds and Randy Barnes, the U.S. world record-holders who tested positive for anabolic steroids, might have their fates decided by binding arbitration.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation told the Associated Press yesterday that any differences between it and The Athletics Congress, its member organization in the United States, in the interpretation of the urine test results done on the athletes will be submitted to a six-member international panel for resolution.

TAC officials have said that both athletes will be granted hearings before any punishment is decided. If TAC holds its hearings and decides it disagrees with the IAAF findings that the athletes be suspended for two years, the case would go to binding arbitration, said IAAF spokesman Mark Butler.

There appears to be some likelihood that TAC will not agree with the IAAF. Reynolds, who runs the 400 meters, and Barnes, a shot putter, have issued strong denials of wrongdoing, criticizing the way the tests were administered. According to the IAAF, Reynolds tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone Aug. 12 at a meet in Monte Carlo; Barnes for methyltestosterone Aug. 7 at a meet in Malmo , Sweden.

In documents released through Washington attorney John M. Dowd, Barnes said doping officials failed to record the control numbers used on the envelope sealing the samples. Without the numbers, there is "no reliable evidence that the tested samples belong to Mr. Barnes," the documents said.

TAC official Richard Hollander also has cast doubt on Barnes's test, saying the urine samples weren't sealed in his presence and the numbers used on the seal were added later. These are violations of IAAF rules.

The IAAF said Barnes and Reynolds will keep their world records despite the positive tests. But they are barred from all internationally recognized meets, even U.S. national championships.